Interest in plant-based products is growing, but many consumers still express skepticism about plant protein foods, or simply lack familiarity with the category. Category marketing campaigns to promote plant-based and alt protein products, independent of specific brands, can engender familiarity and showcase recent innovations. Campaigns can emphasize flavor, convenience, familiarity, nutrition, and other positive attributes. Category marketing can help expand existing markets, increase demand, and promote alternative proteins for new markets and use cases.
Many alternative protein companies are interested in exporting their products or ingredients, and this is matched by interest from businesses in many countries eager to import exciting products. But import/export is a complex endeavor with many legal, logistical, and administrative challenges. There are many opportunities for brokers, directories, legal firms, and service providers to facilitate global trade in alternative proteins, including consulting services on regulatory compliance, facilitating introductions to in-country distribution partners, and aggregating listings of government support programs and trade contacts.
Enabling easy animal ingredient substitutions in a wide range of food products.
There is a need for a supplier of low-cost growth factors produced without the use of animals to support the proliferation phase of cultivated meat production. The cost of growth factor production will need to be brought down significantly as cultivated meat production is scaled up.
Plant-based protein makerspaces would be publicly available spaces where interested members of the public could learn, experiment, and work collaboratively on projects related to plant-based proteins. They could offer access to the physical equipment necessary to conduct projects as well as technical assistance to inform them. The aim would be to encourage more interaction between the public and the alternative protein industry, thus stimulating the exploration and development of more ideas. Makerspaces may also be able to increase positive consumer perception of the technology by increasing familiarity with the relevant production processes. The logistics of the makerspace should be done in such a way to maximize democratization and inclusion of a large segment of the public.
Both the cultivated meat industry and interested members of the general public would benefit from the creation of makerspaces focused on cultivated meat. These would be publicly available spaces where community members can learn, experiment, and work collaboratively on projects related to cultivated meat. Here, they would have access to the physical equipment necessary to conduct projects as well as technical assistance to inform them. The aim of this project is to encourage more interaction between the public and the alternative protein industry, thus stimulating the exploration and development of more ideas. Makerspaces could also promote greater understanding of and openness to cultivated meat among future consumers of the product.
There is currently a lack of resources for high school students interested in alternative proteins. Students interested in entering this field would benefit from the creation of summer courses that provide motivated high school students with the theoretical background, hands on experience, and a network of peers to help foster their interest in alternative proteins. The aim of initiating such a program is to encourage students to pursue self-directed learning in this area, thus stimulating growth in the alternative protein community.
Improving affordability, nutrition, and organoleptic properties of cultivated meat through co-cultures with support cells
Skeletal muscle is composed of approximately 90% muscle fibers, along with adipose, connective, nervous, and vascular tissue (Listrat et al. 2016). Cultivated meat research focuses primarily on muscle fibers and fat cells. However, the other cell types in muscle serve important functions that are potentially underappreciated in their relevance to cultivated meat. In the context of a whole animal, muscle tissue does not exist in isolation. For example, organs such as the liver process waste products and synthesize growth factors and other beneficial compounds. Research into co-culture methods with various support cells could solve a variety of challenges on the road to developing affordable, high-quality cultivated meat.
Alternative protein companies would benefit from the availability of off-the-shelf or customizable bioreactors for cultivated meat and fermentation-derived products. This need could be filled by increased investment in and support of existing companies (see "Related Efforts"), creation of new companies, or strategic pivots by companies currently producing bioreactor technology for other applications.
A handful of companies and researchers are developing scaffold materials for use in various steps of the cultivated meat production process, but to date the topic of scaffolding has been largely overshadowed by the challenge of producing cell mass at scale. This is a topic in need of much more research and development as the industry matures in order to enable the development of products that have meat-like structure and texture, which will be more appealing to consumers than unstructured meat products.